Open Letter to Chris Martin, from Scribla

coldplay_BS

*Warning – letter might contain use of satirical tone to emphasise serious points being raised.*

Dear Chris,

I write to you because I’m not aware of the names of your fellow band members, don’t have the time to check, and I haven’t listened to your music since the 90s. I also avoid iTunes like the plague, as Apple demonstrates on a daily basis that it is no more than a heartless multi national company who will stop at nothing to make a profit. But that’s another story – I digress.

The reason I get in touch is because I wanted to personally bring to your attention, and that of the public, some issues which have arisen due to your using part of Newtown as the backdrop to your new video. ( I had a watch, by the way…it’s fantastic!!! I especially love the way your bouncers can be seen enforcing the ‘feel good’ vibe you try so hard to propagate. But that’s just me, I’m weird like that. In other words, details count, mate.)

My interest was piqued when one of the crew members asked me to move along, just before your video was shot. ( I was on my way to the hardware store, by the way, and stopped to ask about the cameras being used – not to hang around to be in your clip.) I was annoyed because under the production company’s agreement with Marrickville council, the crew member had no such authority. ( Neither, by the way, did your giant bouncer, whose intimidating presence was, from the accounts I’ve acquired, used to move members of the public along – again, without any authority. In fact, I think that’s illegal?)

chrisMartin 'fits in'
But what’s got me annoyed, my good man, is the lack of respect the crew, and thereby yourself, have shown to members of the Newtown community who had no interest in your clip, and who have been done wrong by its presence.

Putting aside the fact that you’ve chosen a ‘hip’ part of town to cheaply add to your ‘vibe’, probably without the slightest knowledge of the area’s history or cultural significance, you’ve actually caused direct and actual distress to certain members of the community – and those who can least afford to endure it.

Firstly, the market holders on the section of land in front of the murals. Senior citizens, dude, who have already seen their rents increase over 60% in the past few years due to the literal flood of thoughtless hipsters into an undeserving community. According to first-hand accounts, members of the crew literally moved along customers from the stalls which use the mural space, and have done for over a decade. One stall-holder , who asked not to be named, lost a day’s takings – a pensioner who has already once been robbed at gun-point ( which was her reason for not wanting to be named.).

Another stall holder, whose name I will gladly provide to you, also lost takings, and on discussing the problem in advance with a member of the crew, whose identity I am aware of, was told that a discussion would be held, and ‘something sorted out’. The crew member, a senior member of the production company, never returned. Probably went to celebrate back in the East.

I notice, by the way, that your ‘talented’ director left Jafari, my friend, in the clip. I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that Jafari is from Uganda, and that his blackness would add to the ‘vibe’. Other stall holders, senior citizens, not so much. Being old is so uncool, right? ( Better get some plastic surgery?)

The real insult to me, though, is the blatant use of the two murals which surround that area – and which are featured heavily in the clip. I’m sure you have no idea of their cultural significance – you’re a busy man. But I’ll fill you in – firstly, that’s an Aboriginal Flag behind you at 1:23. You’ve probably seen them on t-shirts the hipsters will be wearing when it becomes trendy in about ten minutes.

dreaming
In case you haven’t had a close look, the Aboriginal Flag represents the people, the earth and the sun, all as one. We, people, exist thanks to the earth and the sun. We don’t own the soil, as your native countrymen might believe. ( And for the record, half a metre below the pavers you stand on is Aboriginal land – despite claims by your sovereign that she, in fact owns what we stand on. But again, I digress. )

Moments earlier in the clip, at 1:08, you can see a mural which was completed more recently, with the words ‘…we have the dreaming’. These were written by a good friend of mine, and the mural completed by another good friend. Both first nations men, who work tirelessly to promote the cause, calling for respect towards indigenous people of a nation which respects few, let alone the few at the bottom.

According to Adam Hill, one of the mural’s artists, the work represents the indigenous population’s response to the mural painted above, asking why Marrickville Council would add a illustration of Martin Luther King to their heritage list, and not that of a mural which truly represents the area’s original inhabitants. The same question relates to the current dilemma; why neglect your own people, in the name of some momentary, pointless exercise?

Which really gets to the core of my point, my good man. Your band has literally waltzed into an area renowned for it’s respect for others; be it gay pride, racial, cultural, or whatever – Newtown and Enmore have long been areas which represent respect. So for your band, worth, I’m guessing, tens of millions of dollars, to ‘pretend’ to be of the street, while actually doing nothing but encouraging the slow creep of ignorance into the area, is what’s really insulting to me.

I know, by the way, that the production company involved paid $0 for the use of the streets, under the understanding that members of the public would not be put out, traffic would not be affected, and no litter would be left behind.

IMG_4998_pub

Well, my good man, I think your crew has failed on all three of those points, and in ways which could a) have easily been avoided and b) again show a lack of any empathy towards either the long-term locals or traditional owners of the land.

Now, I can understand, I suppose, why someone like you might feel the need to be surrounded by hundreds of blindly adoring fans with nothing better to do than point their crappy iProducts in your direction for the fleeting sense of joy that will keep them distracted from otherwise pointless lives. Or something like that.

But, you’ve been in the business a while, and I imagine you’ve had time between studios to consider the bigger issues. So, why don’t you consider the issues I’ve raised with you today, and have a think about how you can make amends?

I, for one, suggest one thing – as a long term resident, please do us all a favour and don’t come back to the area. At least not without something to offer, rather than just a willingness to use our ‘hipster haven’ as a mere prop in your latest attempt to develop your image? ( On that note, by the way – have you tried any new chords recently? )

Perhaps you could visit the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, located a few kilometres away in Redfern, where real people are actually fighting; actually fighting for their land, which is literally being stolen from them, just like you stole from Newtown. Why don’t you make amends to the people you’ve offended (and I assure you, there are many – I can provide details ), and visit the tent embassy? You can even come down in July, when it is said Ban Ki Moon ( he works at the UN) will be paying a visit.

 

I’ll finish up – I’m sure you have sleep to catch up on. But I wanted to mention one last thing – a metaphor for this whole affair.

You came, you brought a bunch of screaming teens with you, and all you left behind was a street littered with paper stars, which will fade away with the next shower.

Apologies for being a bit blunt, but…you’re a big boy. And you got a lot of money, so I’m sure you’ll survive.

Those senior citizen stall holders, though…might be nice for you to send them some flowers.

Your mate,
SCRIBLA

PS – This is how you do it properly. Better song, too.

PPS – Here’s a clip I directed for a small fee for a mate a while back. Everyone got paid, too.

candyLink

 

20 responses to “Open Letter to Chris Martin, from Scribla

  1. Jess

    YOU ARE BRILLIANT!!!! Thank you so much for putting what so many are thinking into words! x

  2. Neesha

    Yep, my 4 yr old son wants to know “why no one picked up all the Star rubbish” around his school.

  3. that's me

    Well said. What a complete shit fight, much like their music. The only difference being that a shit fight has some semblance of excitement. Cold olay fuck off back to your miserable shit hole that you call home.

  4. chia

    Lol the Sticky Fingers video pretty much destroyed your whole argument, how is spraying alcohol all over the street and pulling your pants down ‘respectful’ of the town and area? How are those guys not categorisable as the ‘hipsters’ you keep attempting to insult? I kind of sided with you initially, but I think the argument of respecting culture and identity is pretty lost if you validate it by putting shit on everyone else.

  5. The difference to me, as someone who’s lived in the area for ten years, studied here for fifteen, is that if a bunch of awesome kids want to have a bit of fun at the expense of maybe one BMW parked on the street, then so be it.

    But if a giant band with the money to do something truly amazing goes along with their manager’s approved methodology – to hire a semi-local production company to orchestrate the whole thing for them for next to no cost- then they should at least do whatever is possible to show some respect rather than just use the suburb’s growing profile to boost their own capital.

    And when it comes to hipsters, please see my other posts…but here’s a quick run-down about what classifies someone as a hipster, as opposed to someone with creative flare –

    A hipster is a self-indulgent wannabe who’s creativity extends no further than their web browser’s ability to check the Sartorialist’s latest post, or what’s new on Cream’s clothes racks – which isn’t much.

    A hipster spends more time on waxing their moustache than they do helping others, thinks spending large amounts of their pay-packet on tattoos they’ve put less than five seconds of thought into means they’re better than other people on the street, and doesn’t read the paper or get political because that’s a slippery slope which will lead inevitably to their having to admit their whole value system, and how they spend their time and money, is completely upside down.

    A hipster gravitates towards superficial garbage, doesn’t explore new horizons, and does nothing to help the world.

    Fair call – those kids in Sticky Fingers probably come pretty close to ticking some of the above boxes. But they’re just kids; not a squillion dollar band who should know better.

    To clarify, I’m not putting shit onto hipsters in this case, nor am I putting it on everyone else. I’m putting it clearly on the ‘creatives’ who thought of the idea, Coldplay management for approving it, and Coldplay themselves for going along with it. It’s not hard for musicians to get involved in the creative process – in fact, I’d say it’s pretty impossible for them not to. Unless the truly couldn’t care less about what their manager has lined up for them for the day, in which case you get a boring result like the clip they’ve just produced, instead of something awesome like the work of Sticky Fingers, who were creatively involved all the way.

    And since I’m described as a rambler, I’ll shut up, but I will point out that I spoke to many people about this on the street before I wrote my article, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sticking up for what’s right. How would you like it if your nana was treated like an obstacle to be herding out of the way?

    And lastly – if Coldplay really were cool, they’d do something FOR the community, like a free show in the park. Newtown doesn’t need more people young people holding iPhones. It needs less!

  6. Poppy P

    Expressing your opinion doesn’t have to be rude. Your argument holds some valid points however also just sounds like an abusive, unjust rant. I believe the music video has put Newtown on the map and the fact they stopped in front of the murals I believe was intended and done so for positive reasons. No disrespect was intended, they only wanted a small amount of people in the video so there was no malicious intent behind it at all. Instead of being offended by small things, look at whats important.

    I am unsure what you are trying to achieve by this…. Maybe this letter would have been more effective if you wrote it to the band itself, or perhaps the council that allowed the music video to go ahead knowing full well that this would be the outcome (you can’t honestly say they didn’t expect that crowd). Instead, you have posted it on the internet so that teenagers with their “iProducts” can read it. Perhaps people wouldn’t feel the need to pick your argument apart if you weren’t so incredibly rude about it… Comments about his status and wealth doesn’t make your argument any stronger.

  7. Poppy P, the slightly mocking tone of the letter is intentional; I’m the most polite and thoughtful person on the planet – I apologise to dogs when I sneeze. But I’m not going to trim the fat when such a serious issue is concerned – this is about respect.

    On one hand, you have your multi-nationals, be they Apple, Atlantic Records, Austereo, whatever. On the other, a community made of people who look out for and care about each other. All I’m saying is that when the two collide, the former should respect the latter. Especially when all that would take is a bit of extra time and thought to do things without showing disrespect.

    One example is of the rubbish left after the shoot by the kids who showed up to be used as meat-based frame-filler for the clip. The area was littered with crap; plastic drink containers, general rubbish, etc.

    Wouldn’t it be nicer if that had been looked after, or even prevented in the first place?

    And why shouldn’t I be annoyed that a bunch of out-of-towners come in and do this to my home, somewhere I defend on a daily basis? Wouldn’t you do the same?

    What actually got me started on this is the fact that one of the murals used in the clip is by two good mates of mine, Adam and Jeff, both first nations men. (That’s the preferred term for being aboriginal; at least by them.) I spoke to them about the use of the mural to boost Coldplay’s image, and they both expressed that while they were more than happy for it to be used, a polite heads up would have been appreciated.

    And again, this gets down to my real point. How many of the people who flooded to Newtown on the day to appear in a clip for a band that could afford to pay them each for their time, but chose not to, would have thought about the fact that the land they’re standing on once belonged to a race of people who never left a single piece of rubbish.

    And I think that’s worth pointing out, right?

    Appreciate your reply, too.

    Thoughts and peace!

    • Poppy P

      As you will see in my first comment, I believe you have some very relevant points. I am not trying to down play anything you say and I believe you have the right to express your opinion.

      For me, the murals were a couple of the only things I noticed in the film clip. So I saw the use of them as a positive thing.

      My issue with the letter is the rudeness. Express your opinion by all means and I read it because to some extent I empathise with you. However it was an awful read due to how maliciously it was written. It honestly upset my mood. I believe that if you want something to be shared and listened to, being rude isn’t the way to do it.

      • That’s very interesting to hear, and in that case, I apologise! But I honestly did think that readers would realise my jibes were part of the tone.

        Would you mind if I ask which parts you found the rudest?

  8. Guy Steinbeck

    Hmmmm… Nah. Chris didn’t have to “enforce a feel good vibe” or fake it or pretend he was loving it while the cameras are rolling, he’s genuinely a good guy who was absolutely stoked that he got to hang out with a heap of fans who dropped everything at the opportunity to be part of his bands newest music video. He was genuinely grateful for it, and I can guarantee that all the emotions he was showing in the video are legitimate. I actually walked up to him and intruded on a conversation between him and a crew member, and he stopped in the middle of the conversation just to acknowledge me.

    • Hey Guy, I’m quite interested to hear your take on the day. I noticed you in the clip, and don’t get me wrong – I’m not against using public space to be creative. In fact, as a street artist, I’m all for it. However, I’m against multi-national corporations disguising business as ‘having fun’, at the cost of locals.

      For example, Marrickville council could have requested that the band donate to a local charity, or put on a proper gig. As it stands, they basically used as much of the space as they could get away with, for the sake of making a promotional video, without paying those involved. An indication of how much they wanted to avoid paying any fees for filming; why did the band not venture North on King St? Because this would stray onto City of Sydney Land, and they charge big $.)

      Us people working in the creative industries take this stuff seriously – the issue of big corporations taking advantage of young people is a growing concern. To put it into perspective, Coldplay probably took home a good $100,000 for their gig on Thursday night – that’s an estimate based on ticket prices, usual venue take, etc.

      Meanwhile, the residents of Newtown / Marrickville who don’t care about them or their music get nothing. And the more hits the video gets, the more revenue the band receives. Again, more cash for them, nothing for the community.

      I realise it was probably a lot of fun to be in the clip – I don’t blame you. But look at the other side – we’re not criticising Coldplay for ‘having fun’. We’re criticising them for flying in and out for as short amount of time as possible to make the clip. You said that Chris was kind enough to pause and say ‘hi’, right?

      Well, maybe the whole band should have though how they could properly thank the residents of Newtown, beyond momentary acts of politeness?

      I’m looking out for you, dude…I don’t know where you go to school, what you’re planning on studying, but the more we let the big boys with $ like John Singleton, the Ibrahims and so forth cash in on our Inner West vibe (which I’m sure you’re a shining example of), the harder it will be for people like us, the locals, to live in the area.

      It’s about fairness and respect.

      And as an example of how to do it properly? Try AC/DC’s Long Way to the Top, even though it was shot in Melbourne…

      No permission, they just did it…and I happen to know at least of the boys still shops local.

  9. Grace Maye

    I’ll talk about my agreements first…
    I do believe that it was terrible that rubbish had been left in your town but just remember: like any big event (whether it be a carnival or maybe a school musical), someone is always bound to leave rubbish. It’s unfortunate and terrible, yes. But that’s just what some humans do. (I am not trying to justify what they have done. I find it quite sad they have left your community with rubbish).
    Now my disagreements…
    In reply to your reply on someone else’s comment, you stated that your friends would have liked to be notified that it was going to be featured in the music video. Why? No one notified the builders of the eiffel tower (yes I know they are no longer with us) that people were going to take pictures of it. No one notifies graffiti artists when a little teenager poses in front of it for facebook. So why the murals? I do respect that it was painted with cultural significance but like any art, there’s always meaning. So why should Coldplay have notified your friends, when all they did was sing in front of the murals and posted a video on youtube (for many too view). Correct me if mistaken but aren’t the murals painted publicly? Therefore can’t people appreciate the wonderful murals? (both viewing and shooting a video).
    Also, Chris Martin is a decent and friendly man. He genuinely loves his fans. I highly doubt he made people pretend to be happy.
    Forgive me if a phrase doesn’t make sense, I am very tired right now.
    I look forward to your reply,
    Grace

  10. Anonymous

    Whinge, Whinge.

    You haven’t listened to Coldplay since the 90s. Where have you been?

    Who cares if they copied Sticky Fingers, I am sure Rolling Stones want their song name back…

    You assume that they have no idea what the Aboriginal flag is.. I assume you are wrong.

  11. Jan

    The ‘coolest’ thing about Newtown is that EVERYONE is welcome. The tone of this messaging is extremely worrying.

  12. I loathe Coldplay. BUT I don’t see how it’s a bad thing to have these murals and the area featured in a mainstream video that goes out to the world and brings attention – and, yes, through their popularity, a kind of validity – to them. The one thing this article ultimately gets wrong is that you see Coldplay as a symbol for the Hipsterdom that has come and gentrified Newtown. Now, that is something I totally understand (the negativity towards gentrification in areas like these) BUT Coldplay are not the right place to transfer that negativity onto because there’s nothing remotely hipster about them. They are as mainstream as Australian Idol, they sell in the suburbs, certainly not in the inner city hipster scenes. Hipsters hate Coldplay, they are not remotely cool. And most of the people that ran there to be in the clip ran there from suburbia. Suburbia generally looks down on Newtown for those things it represents – cultural diversity, etc – and so to have one of their idols basically say “this is great” I think can have a positive impact. Most of those fans would never consider that mural otherwise. Being in that clip assures its status as being culturally significant, and whether you like how that happened or not (in a film clip for a crap band), surely that is still a good thing for the ongoing survival and importance of it, and for the people who will now come through Newtown and notice it for the first time in however long because it was on the Coldplay clip?

  13. Newtowner73

    Anyone who has a disclaimer telling people that the content is satirical has basically lost the reader. It’s akin to telling someone a joke is going to be funny and then it just….isn’t.
    This is presumptuous bollocks at its best. Coldplay left your friend in their video ’cause he’s black? Seriously? Was that the satirical part?
    I don’t like Coldplay. I don’t like Sticky Fingers. I don’t see how one over the other is better for Newtown. It’s sort of irrelevant. Maybe the pouring of beer over cars parked on the side of the road was more endearing? Maybe the council should charge a fee for street musicians who shoot videos on King Street? Either way, your argument lacks a clear audience. I get that it’s a rant but what about? Probably the garden bed that got trampled.
    Oh and FYI, they named a list of Newtown businesses IN the video. That kind of PR is priceless.
    Your rant is just blatant nimbyism.

  14. Martina Donkers

    Well said!!

  15. Ghost Toon

    Kelly Samuels should have beat you up. At least I now have heard of your town.

  16. Matt

    To say that they need to show “respect” to a place is a tad odd. Yes, to the people, but not to a suburb… It’s a public place. Making use for it in a film clip isn’t taking anything away from it’s culture and history. And to imply that the suburb/people will get nothing back from it is quite ingenuous – it’s probably the best publicity Newtown has had in years. It will undoubtedly bring curious people along to see where the video clip was filmed, which will bring in more money to the area, including to your shopkeeper friends.

    And to add to that, the filming did not go on all day, and many of the participants would have stayed on after the filming finished and spent their money. So anyone claiming they lost a “full day’s takings” is certainly stretching the truth.

    I couldn’t care less about Coldplay myself, but this just feels like a vitriolic rant against a band, primarily because they just happen to be successful. Just because they happened to spend a few hours making use of your suburb does not mean they owe you anything.

  17. coldplays video was a pale shadow of sticky fingers, theres a real good vibe in the fingers song and the video really captures that feel, it makes me smile- coldplays video makes me want to vomit cold blood.. cant really put my finger on exactly why, but i think you summed up a fair bit of it in your article..
    nice film clip! good work

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